0dyssssssss.jpgThe organisers of the NEXT conference which was held on December 1 in Copenhagen have released the Lab TV webcasts with slides. They are available for free until December 31. A few lines about what's in store for you:

George Dyson believes that if you're interested in the future you might want to also have a good look at perspectives from the past. He gave a fascinating and amazingly well-documented talk about Stanisław Ulam and other great people who came to the US in the '30 and whom the States would probably not allow to enter now.

Louise Skyggebjerg
tells the story of Jacob C. Ellehammer, a pioneer in Danish aviation and the man behind the boats in the Tivoli Lake, a revolutionising fire pump, a solar-powered tractor, an automated beer machine, etc. Her point was to demonstrate that there is a long way from invention to innovation and diffusion (and the stones on the way) but also to show that notion of success vs failure is also a question of interpretation,

Anthony Dunne discusses his idea of "design for debate", a new design approach that would raise questions about the kind of technological future we desire.

Christopher Bauder
explains how and why he gets to invent new projects.

Peter Qvist Lorentsen gives the lowdown on H2PIA, the world first hydrogen-based city.

Jane McGonigal tells all about alternate reality games.

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Kevin Slavin, from area/code, gave a way too short talk about “Big Games?, large-scale, real-world games that might involve transforming an entire city into the world's largest board game with hundreds of players scouring the streets to escape ghosts, or a TV show reaching out to interact with real-time audiences nationwide. The video doesn't seem to be online though :-(

Charles Leadbeater discusses why good innovation is un-finished and much much more.

Jason Kaufman explained the latest developments in GumSpots & GSPS: GumSpots Positioning System.

I wrote down my notes from Colin Bulthaup, Lucy McRae and Vuk Cosic's talks previously but they can't beat the videos!

NEXT flickr set, images by Morten Fauerby from Innovation lab. My flickr set.

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0colinbuly.jpgFinally back home so service will resume as normal and i'll finally get to write down my notes from various events i've attended here and there. Starting with Colin Bulthaup's talk at NEXT2006 conference, in Copenhagen on December 1.

Bulthaup is co-founder of the high-tech enterprise Squid Labs, a multibranched company that develops breakthrough technologies and find solutions to unique engineering problems.

Squid Labs is an innovation foundry that aims to go beyond what the future could bring, they just build it. It started with some MIT students who loved the playful attitude they found at MIT, enjoyed the possibility to explore crazy ideas but were missing the output from the "real world". MIT was too academic. So when they launched Squid Lab, their aim was to keep the fun and the openness but be more driven by the real world.

Their "office" itself seeks to create an environment that fosters innovation. The space itself is a warhouse large enough to allow people to play around and feel welcome (they even have beds and a kitchen). They build a community with smart people coming and visiting. The way they function is very different from the corporate world, which is too secretive. People who work at Squid Labs enjoy some flexibility: they dedicate 33% of their time there on a particular project, 33% participating to other SL's projects and the rest of the time they can do whatever they want.

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Squid Labs facility (image Wired)

SQUID Labs' projects:

The most talked-about one is the Smart Rope: a high-tech rope with integral sensing capability that monitors its own load and signals any weakness, sending the information to a handheld device well before it frays and gives way.

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But there's also Magic Window, an augmented reality system that allows you to move a laptop around and overlay data on the real world; Solar Driveaway, a custom solar power system offering such extreme ruggedness that it can be used for driveways and sidewalks; and a swarm of tiny unmanned aerial vehicles that avoid one another.

Squid Lab has "split" into a handful of companies which keep using SL as a resource but are autonomous and driven to make one particular idea a success:

0instructables.jpg1 - Howtoons: educational cartoons to get children excited about technology and inspire them to build their own things. Book out in January-February. A website allows people from around the world (in particular developing countries) to access the information. They are working on translations in different languages.

2 - Instructables: a step-by-step guide to share the making of OS physical Objects. People can share with others what they've done, it can then be changed and improved. Every aspect of the production chain is open.

3 - Low Cost Eyeglasses: Because 500 M to 1 Bn people need but can't afford eyeglasses, SL designed and built patented lens molding technology that can produce any prescription lens in 5-10 minutes from a single mold surface. The idea is to give the technology to local entrepreneurs in order to make the idea more sustainable.

4 - POTENCO focuses on lack of power and infrastructure in developing countries. Billions of people don't have access to electrical power. In Africa, cell phone use is exploding but only a fraction of the population has access to electrical power so some people have to walk many miles to get to the center of a city and charge their device.
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So SL looked at other forms of generating energy. Kerosene lighting? Can be very expensive, it provides poor lighting for reading and makes fumes.

Potenco is a portable, robust and ergonomic power generator: just pull a cord for a minute and it generates electric power for up to several hours. It can be used to power mobile phones, PDAs, lighting products, digital cameras, etc.

Compared to a crank, Potenco generates 5 times more power, it can be pulled 5 times longer before the user senses fatigue; it's quieter, lighter and more robust.

One minute of pulling gives 1 hour of light, 25 minutes of talk time on the phone, 230 minutes of iPod shuffle use, 45 minutes on the Nintendo DS. Millions of units will be distributed in the next few years.

Potenco has been selected as the power provider for the $100 Laptop (One Laptop per Child).

Curious? The MAKE team visited Squid Labs in Emeryville, CA.

0lucymac.jpgStill slowly sharing my notes from NEXT exhibition and conference. Tomorrow i'll be in London. And when a man is tired of London, he blogs. So things might be even quieter than usual here!

Lucy McRae is a "Body Architect." Her work explores the intertwining of fashion, architecture and the human body. She's currently focusing on the body's reaction to and interaction with its environment at Philips Design in Eindhoven.

Her research is part of a programme that works 15 years ahead and identifies trends before they hit the mainstream.

Her latest project, SKIN Probe investigates the human skin, and how body products should be designed – be they garments, electronics or furniture. She developed it with a team made of people coming from different disciplines: a fashion designer, a textile engineer, a garment technologist, etc.

She listed a few phenomenons relevant to her research:
- Textile automation (clothing tailored just for you while you wait; DNA in your shoes);
- Health/Wellness (the need to relax for a society that passed from 5 working days per week to 7 thanks to glorious gadgets such as the Blackberry);
- Information overload (techno clutter still in search of the magical charger);
- miniaturizing and sensing;
- etc.

In her view, technology should be much more than just intelligent: it should be sensitive, thus able to give psycho-sensorial feedbacks (a subliminal message) and indirect response (touch and feel). She sees skin as a wonderful sensor: it's an electronic network, a protection barrier, a temperature regulator, etc.

McRae also mentionned a EU project she's currently working on. It's called Stella and deals with stretcheable electronics, the advent of nano-scale sensors and how a combination of these two could allow our senses to become some kind of jewelry or a tattoo.

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Frisson and Blush Dress

She ended her talk with a few comments on the latest prototypes she developed for Philips:

- Frisson, a collaboration with Rachel Wingfield, investigates how sensations can be put into the objects that surround us. The body suit has LEDs that light on according to the wearer's state of excitement. Both measure skin signals and change light emission through biometric sensing technology.

- The Blush Dress is less about touch and sensitivity and looks more at the environment that surrounds us. It is made of two layers, the inner one is equipped with sensors that respond to changes in the wearer's emotions and projects them onto the outer textile.

Both prototypes belong to Philips' Design Probe programme that considers what lifestyles might be like in 2020. They present a possible way of communicating with those around us by using garments as proxies to convey deep feelings that are difficult to express in words.

Note that Philips wasn't the first to explore emotion and fashion. Artists have been doing that for years! Lisa Stead's Emotional Wardrobe is a collection of garments that change their aesthetic display in response to the emotions of the wearer or the presence of a viewer; Scentient Beings by Jenny Tillotson created a fabric that interacts with human emotions and emits a selection of scents depending on your mood; Closer: Wearables for a distant society, by Alison Lewis aims at creating wearable interactive art which reinforces values of kindness, fun and play through touch, etc.

Christopher Bauder and Till Beckmann from w-h-i-t-e-v-o-i-d interaction design were showing one of their latest projects at the NEXT exhibition in Copenhagen last weekend.

Video objects
is a custom software to perspectively distort video content in realtime. The pre-distorted videos are projected from one video projector onto multiple real world 3D objects.

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The resulting projected imagery seems to be sticking on the surfaces of the objects. The source videos can be adjusted to the respective objects on the spot with a projected helper grid or an imported 3D model of the real world setup. Once the system is aligned the projected videos can be exchanged in realtime by drag and drop in a VJ-like manner. I watched Bauder as he was demo-ing the application and the software seemed quite easy to use, the results of his manipulation were quite fast and precise.

Bauder is also a VJ and he felt the need for such application. He looked around, couldn't find anything satisfying and developed Video Objects. The artists' plan is to further develop the idea and find a way to make projections on spherical objects as well.

Related post: Bugs, errors, and weird behaviors.

More images of Video Objects on flickr.

0minivuk.jpgThe NEXT2006 conference ended yesterday in Copenhagen. The exhibition is open till tomorrow, Sunday December 3.

I hardly ever opened my laptop to check my emails during the presentations which is a good sign. I'll start with the art talk. Unsurprisingly.

Vuk Cosic gave a crash course in Vuk-ology (btw, he's one of the first artists i interviewed for the blog.) After the golden days of net.art, he decided to become an ASCII artist. Why ASCII? For several reasons: because it existed before computing; not everyone takes it seriously, it's rather ugly (won't be recuperated by the art world very easily) and it's sexy (infected by hacker virus).

He recalled the seven episodes of his ASCII period:
1. Moving Ascii: He passed several famous movies through the ASCII filter (includes some black and green clips from Deep Throat, Blow Up, Star Trek),
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2. Music video/vinyl with Alexei Shulgin
3. The Instant ASCII Camera which was presented at NEXT. The machine is working like the known instant cameras in the railway stations, with several differences, it's quite small, very fast, free and it produces portraits in ASCII style. Just press a button and your ASCII portrait is printed on a supermarket type of receipt.
4. The ASCII History of Art for the Blind:
5. ASCII Unreal
6. ASCII Architecture which planned to fully cover the St. Georges Hall, a neo-classical monument in Liverpool, with the projection of ascii rendering of the same surface that it's being projected on.
7. ASCII Sculptures, same as above but on sculptures.

He ended with a piece of advice: "Do something useless. Do it seriously. The You'll do good easily" and with the presentation of his latest work: a series of game-inspired flags to be printed on his upcoming fashion collection (well, i'm not sure he'd put it exactly like that ;-)

I give you US Invader...

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and Pac Sweden.

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Check out the others on my flickr images.

0menxt.jpgI'm off to Copenhagen to attend NEXT2006, the Nordic Exceptional Trendshop (image on the left from last year's edition). As usual, they have invited wonderful speakers along with funky gadgets. The Conference is on Friday and the exhibition is open only on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3. At the IT University (ITU) in Copenhagen. This way!

Keep up with what's going on up there on the NEXT blog (and on this one, 'f course!)

Then --hurray!-- time for a short stop in Waffle-Eden. I've been invited by Yves Bernard to give a talk at the Art+Game event, it's on December 4 but there's also a pretty nice exhibition of artistic game installations and the screening of the 8bit movie on Sunday afternoon. 08bitmv.jpg

Just before that on December 3, i'll be in Gent for the Artbots exhibition. Hey Wallonia! What are you doing? Des Tartes a'l'djote?

On the 5th i'll be in London for the Open Days in School of Architecture and Design at the RCA and to give a couple of talks. One of them will be at the ICA Club for a night of the Webbys. I'm quite curious about it. I feel like i never won that Webby award: i didn't attend the ceremony and never bought the so un-sexy statuette they were quite eager to sell me. The ICA night will celebrate the entertainers, technologists, creative thinkers, musicians, cultural and political players, who use the web in a way central to their activities. Thanks Nicolas Roope for the invitation!

After that i'll be spending a couple of days in Lausanne (Switzerland) to give a talk at the ECAL, the University of Art and Design. I'll also check the Betes de Style exhibition at the MUDAC and the show that Perfektron, aka Ryota Kuwakubo and Reico Yamaguchi, are having at the Galerie Lucy Mackintosh. Nico-les-bons-tuyaux informed me that Kuwakubo and Yamaguchi will have a talk this Friday afternoon at EPFL, in the context of The Interactive City class by Prof Jeffrey Huang. Bonus: Jonah Brucker-Cohen interviewd Kuwakubo on gizmodo last week.

Then i'll be back in Turin for a few days before moving my office and life to Berlin. Finally!

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